German Precision

It’s pronounced herr-MAHN, and there’s an accent mark over the A, but the dominance and expertise that Domingo German showed last night in Oakland was right up there with the kind we’ve seen with the likes of Katarina Witt, Boris Becker and at least the first few months of Kaiser Wilhelm.

As THE ATHLETIC’s Chris Kirschner and Brendan Kuty reported last night:

Yankees starting pitcher Domingo Germán achieved greatness in Oakland on Wednesday night, throwing the 24th perfect game in MLB history and the fourth perfect game in Yankees history.

The Yankees won, 11-0, as Germán forced Esteury Ruiz to bounce out to third baseman Josh Donaldson to end the game. After the final out, his teammates mobbed him on the field. First baseman Anthony Rizzo pumped his fist in the air.  “Something I’m going to remember forever,” Germán said in the postgame interview on the YES Network, via the team’s Spanish interpreter. “Part of history.”

Indeed, he is now a part of Yankee lore, as unlikely an achiever as was Don Larsen, the first of the four pitchers to toss a perfecto in Pinstripes (though German was the first Yankee to do that wearing their road grays).  As the duo added, German hasn’t exactly been the Yankees’ ace, or even a steady contributor, during this season’s first half:

The 30-year-old had been torched in his two previous starts, lasting just two innings and giving up seven runs on June 16 at the Red Sox before coughing up eight earned runs in 3 1/3 innings versus the Mariners.  It also came in a season in which Germán was suspended 10 games for violating the league’s sticky stuff policy for using too much rosin on his pitching hand. Germán wasn’t expected to start the season in the Yankees’ rotation, but injuries to Frankie MontasCarlos Rodón and others gave him a chance to stick in the role.

David Cone, who pitched the third of the Yankees’ perfect games just a year after his teammate David Wells did, during a run of dominance not seen by the team or the game since, was particularly laudatory of German’s performance, per’s Kevin Manahan’s documenting of a post-game interview Cone gave with his fellow YES reporters, and he offered some perspective on what kind of shot in the arm this could provide for German’s career:

What’s in store for German? How will this change his career? How will this change his life?

Well, in the short term, you kind of hope that it would have the same effect that it had for David Wells. The minute he threw his perfect game, it seemed to validate him and his place on the roster and in the rotation. And from that point on, he was the best pitcher in the American League in 1998. Confidence is a major issue. You hope this allows [German] to really truly believe in himself and get over the hump. So that’s the short term. In the long term, there will be autographs, and the further removed it gets, the more he’s going to appreciate it.

Can this help jump-start the team?

You can’t just keep talking about the offense and Aaron Judge and what they need to do to score more runs. At some point, you have to adapt. And the way you adapt is, you pitch better and you field better and you do run prevention more than you do run scoring — at least until Judge gets back, or at least you can get something going offensively. The Yankees are very capable of winning games a different way than just being the Bronx Bombers.

The Yankees could learn from German’s history–he has persevered through much worse than an offensive slump.  Back to Kirschner and Kuty:

It’s been a long trip toward this indelible moment for Germán. Prior to Wednesday night, Germán may have been most known across baseball for getting suspended a total of 81 games for violating the league’s domestic violence policy. He was put on administrative leave in September 2019 and served the remaining 63 games of his suspension in 2020. At the time, it was the harshest ban levied on a player who had been investigated following domestic violence allegations but never criminally charged.

But as Randy Miller. Manahan’s fellow writer penned before the season, German showed the kind of resillience and determination that makes a couple of lousy June starts prior to last night pablum by comparison:

German needed big changes after an evening of drinking during CC Sabathia’s charity event late in the 2019 season allegedly turned into domestic violence. The victim was his girlfriend, Mara Vega, who also is the mother of his children.

German also knew that he had a problem, or as he called it during his interview with Con Las Bases Llenas this week, an “addiction.” He knew he had to make changes to fix his life regardless of the consequences.  German spent the rest of the 2019 season on administrative leave, then was suspended for the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. During the suspension, German couldn’t talk to his teammates or anyone associated with the Yankees. He didn’t know if he’d ever be accepted back, or if any team would want him.  

The most difficult part was having to live with his awful mistake. His girlfriend took him back, but he knew that he had to rebuild trust with actions and time.  German said he suffered from anguish and depression in his darkest days, helped by counseling and books on self-improvement. One day at a time, German believes that he made progress toward becoming a better spouse, father, teammate and man. He says he’s happier than he’s ever been.

So snark if you will that German did this against baseball’s worst team, the mockingly-nicknamed “Double A’s”.  No A’s team, in any city of century, had had a perfect game tossed against them in 119 years, and the guy who did that just happened to be named Cy Young.

Domingo German may never win the award named for him, but he’s already proven he’s worthy of the accolade and immortality doing something that only 23 other pitchers since 1880 have ever accomplished.  He had already conquered foes far more imposing than a 20-61 team prior to last night.  We’re just going to be more likely to remember that’s the case now thanks to last night.



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